Breastfeeding and pregnancy may lower the risk of early menopause, according to a new study released this month by JAMA Network Open.
The study found that women who exclusively breastfeed have the lowest risk. Though, as the study explains further, breastfeeding for any length of time, as well as being pregnant, helped lower the risk of early menopause overall.
Study Finds Breastfeeding and Pregnancy May Lower the Risk of Early Menopause
As Romper reports, the new study followed 108,887 women between 1989 and 2015, who ranged in ages 25 to 40. The study found that women who had one child had an 8 percent lower risk for early menopause, women who had two children had a 16 percent lower risk and women who had three children had a 22 percent lower risk.
Breastfeeding played an even larger role in lowering a woman’s risk. The study found that women who had breastfed exclusively for seven to 12 months had a 28 percent lower risk of going into menopause early. Christine Langton, the study’s lead author and Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences, said of their findings:
“While there are various lifestyle and genetic factors that may contribute to the timing of menopause for individual women, it may be reassuring to some women to know that there may be health benefits later in life that are associated with pregnancy and breastfeeding.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, early menopause is when a woman’s ovaries “stop functioning normally before age 40.” Early menopause, or primary ovarian insufficiency, has been linked to a number of health issues including osteoporosis, depression, cardiovascular disease, and premature death, The New York Times reports.
The study found that the women who were least likely to go into early menopause were women who had three children and breastfed exclusively between seven to 12 months. These mothers had a 32 percent lower risk.
Current breastfeeding guidelines support the study’s findings. The World Health Organization, for example, currently recommends that moms breastfeed exclusively for at least six months. It’s also said that a mother’s health also benefits from breastfeeding for a significant amount of time.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.
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